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14 Customer Service Terms Everyone in the Industry Should Know

Providing excellent customer service requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to continuous learning. To help you along the way, here are 14 top customer service terms to familiarize yourself with that may inspire you and your CX team to find new ways to keep on improving.

14 Customer Service Terms Everyone in the Industry Should Know

14 Customer Service Terms Everyone in the Industry Should Know

#1: Voice of the Customer (VOC)

Want a clear picture of how well your business is meeting the wants and needs of your customers? Then you need to capture the voice of the customer (VOC). Surveys are one of the most common ways companies go about collecting this feedback. The problem is, traditional surveys only manage to garner responses from about 3% of customers—hardly a meaningful sample size. Well-designed surveys, on the other hand, can help boost completion rates by 10X or more, with average response rates between 40-60%. (See: Survey Fatigue Is Real: How to Capture the Voice of the Customer in Ways That Build Loyalty.)

#2: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

As the name suggests, customer satisfaction, or CSAT, is a measure that tells companies how happy their customers are with their products, services, and customer service. Most businesses track CSAT scores by asking customers to complete short surveys and rate their experiences on a scale of 1-5, 1-7, or 1-10, and the higher the score, the better. Monitoring CSAT and taking steps to improve customer service experiences can have far-reaching impacts on customer retention, lifetime value, and overall business profitability.

Ready to empower your agents to deliver excellent customer service, provide best-in-class experiences for your customers, and watch your CSAT score soar? Get the complete Introduction to Customer Satisfaction Metrics guide to set them up for success.

#3: Net Promoter Score (NPS)

When you want to know how loyal your customers are, you want to know your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). There are three types of NPS—relationship NPS, competitive benchmark NPS, and experience NPS, which will tell you how likely your customers are to refer your brand to a friend, how you’re doing compared to your competitors, and how loyal customers feel immediately following a specific interaction with your company, respectively.

#4: Customer Effort Score (CES)

Another customer satisfaction KPI, customer effort scores (CES) illustrate how much effort customers have to put in to get their problems resolved. Keeping track of this metric can reveal opportunities for improvement, such as revamping agent training or offering real-time QA.

#5: Quality Assurance (QA)

Just as any business should conduct regular quality assurance (QA) checks to ensure they’re consistently delivering high-quality products, the same can be said of services offered—particularly customer service. When the experience-booking website Peek.com began implementing real-time QAs, they were able to improve their audit efficiency by 5X and increase their CSAT scores from 3.0 to 3.25.

#6-7: Average First Response Time, a.k.a. Average First Reply Time

Average first response or reply time (FRT) is a calculation of the amount of time a given customer has to wait between initiating a service inquiry or ticket—whether via a phone call, live chat, text, or email—and first receiving an initial response from a CX team member.

#8-9: Average Reply Time (a.k.a. Average Handle Time)

Unlike first response time, which measures how long it takes CX professionals to initially respond to a given message, average reply time—also known as average handle time—is the amount of minutes, hours, days, or weeks it takes for CX agents to respond to all customer inquiries, including the first touch and all subsequent interactions.

#10: Average Resolution Time

Average resolution time, other hand, is the amount of time it usually takes to completely address—and fully close out—any given customer issue, from the first message to the last.

#11-12: First Contact Resolution (or First Call Resolution) (FCR)  

One of the most important metrics for call centers to track, first contact resolution (FCR) measures how often brands resolve customer service issues during the first call, email, or chat. Improving this KPI, which offers key insights into the efficiency of your customer service team operations, can help boost overall CSAT while saving time and money. (See First Call Resolution: 26 Tips for Improving Your First Call Resolution Rate.)

#13: Service Recovery

When negative experiences arise, companies still have a chance to turn things around by reaching out and making things better through service recovery. Successful service recovery strategies include developing a process for flagging all negative feedback, following up with customers as soon as issues arise, resolving the problem, asking for feedback, and measuring the impact over time.

#14: Empathy

There will always be factors outside of your control, but one thing that’s entirely up to CX professionals is how your team interacts with customers. Interacting with customers in a positive, friendly manner is one of the top four ways companies can improve CSAT scores and communicating with empathy is one of the hallmarks of a great customer service email.

14 Customer Service Terms Everyone in the Industry Should Know